Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Blessing my home 25 years later – by Sister #3


In 1998 I decided to give up apartment living and buy a house. My mom was helping me look and we hadn’t seen many places when we came across my house. On a lovely tree lined street in little Italy, its location was perfect.  I had lived most of my adult life in Osborne Village and wanted to stay central but also wanted a less transient neighbourhood with some history.

The house had good bones. Built in 1904 it had a solid foundation, level floors, and straight walls. But I had to look beyond the surface appearance to discover what the house truly had to offer. The fellow who lived in my house was a slob. The place was a mess. It had been on the market a while and he had obviously grown tired of putting in any effort in preparation for showings. The place reeked of cigarettes and cat pee. His furniture was sparse, tattered and covered in cat hair. Besides being dirty, the house was painted stark white and lacked decoration, so had absolutely no personality.

Worst of all there had an alter of plywood and cinder blocks in the upstairs box room, covered in items that indicated the owner was worshiping something that I would never invite into my house. I remember the look on my real estate agent’s face when we entered that room. I’m sure he thought he wasn’t making a sale that day.

But there was something about the place that showed me it was going to be my home. The pitch of the 3/4 story second floor ceilings felt like a cozy hug, the high fluted baseboards and door jams with their corner carved medallions showed that this house was built with love and pride of ownership. The large windows filled the place with so much light. I knew she had potential. So I put in an offer and got a great deal on the place.  

The day I took possession my friend and pastor, Merv met me at the house in order to walk from room to room, blessing it and ridding it if any spirits that may have been left behind. The owner hadn’t bothered to move most of his things out of the house, including his make shift alter.  Merv tore it all apart and hauled it to the garbage, cleansing my house so I could start to rebuild it on a new spiritual foundation, fill it with colour, and beautiful things, and restore its personality. 

Recently I hosted a dinner party and invited Pastor Merv, his wife Susan and another couple of our friends to my home for dinner. I wanted to celebrate 25 years in my home. I love my little house and all the memories she holds. All the celebrations, and sleepovers, all the deck visits over cups of tea. That night we had a lovely time reminiscing about my first day in the house.

Anyway, this is a food blog so here’s the recipe for the soup I served as my first course for our dinner party. Hope you enjoy. 

Butternut squash soup 

Makes two litres 

1 large butternut squash cubed approx. 8 cups

1 yellow onion cut into medium dice

2 large carrots peeled and cut into large dice

2 garlic cloves peeled

3 Tablespoons butter melted

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon curry powder

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ cup apple juice

3 ½ cups vegetable stock

6 oz cream

½ cup pumpkin puree

2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger pulp 

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Place butternut squash, onion, carrots, and garlic on a parchment lined sheet pan. Combine melted butter, olive oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, curry powder, kosher salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle it over the butternut squash mixture and toss until everything is coated. Roast at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

Once cooked and cooled, spoon vegetables in batches into blender with enough apple juice and broth to process. 

Pour into large saucepan on medium heat. Add ½ cup pumpkin puree, any remaining juice or broth, ginger pulp and cream. Stir until well combined and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Serve and enjoy.

Kath’s quote: “Our house is a very, very, very fine house. With two cats in the yard. Life used to be so hard.
Now everything is easy ’cause of you
.”-Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Love never fails.

Have you ever wanted to run a Bed and Breakfast?-Part 3


The seasons had noticeably changed upon our arrival at Aaron’s on the Lake Bed and Breakfast. As we made the short drive up from the city, both D and I commented that it was like going home. We have many homes, not because we are wealthy (that’s an understatement!) but because we are flexible. We also decided at the beginning of the pandemic, that D and I were at “home” if we were together (hokey but true).

Bed and Breakfast owners Eleanore and Randy had made a couple of changes since we last visited them. This cozy corner was where I spent any moment of the weekend that wasn’t focused on their guests. D helped Randy with check ins and the couple left for Winnipeg soon after. Upon close examination of this picture, I must have poured a glass of wine, soon after. This was our solo flight at the Bed and Breakfast and we were pretty excited!

We had stopped on our way out of the city, for bowls of chicken, wonton soup. After reheating them, we pulled up stools to the kitchen island.

Imagine purchasing a historic property for a Bed and Breakfast and finding out you have your very own pear tree outside the kitchen window! I had previously been sent home with a number of green baby pears, which I made into a crisp upon ripening.

From the kitchen window, I spied a beautiful sunset through the trees. My soup slurping was interrupted so that I could get a picture from their road. I never miss a sunset (or sunrise for that matter), if I am able. Dawn and dusk, ground me and fill me with gratitude-the perfect way to start and end my days.

Case in point, the next pic on my phone was of the sun on the horizon the next morning.

D and I were on our first solo breakfast duty! I was in charge of everything which wasn’t the main entree: setting the dining room, making coffee and putting out a tea selection, milk & cream, juices, condiments and lastly preparing the first course. On this day it was bowls of tropical fruits.

D’s tasks were roasting sausages, making buckwheat pancakes as well as a blueberry and Gran Marnier compote. I served, cleared and chatted with the guests. Luckily I had just been on a Gimli shopping spree so when one of the female guests asked for shopping ideas, I was ready with a comprehensive list.

After breakfast clean up, we didn’t really have any other chores except for snuggling up with Jake.

I loved this capture from Eleanore and Randy’s desk. I don’t know how much writing I would get done from there.

The house is full of pretty little touches like these stained glass bluebirds in the office/billiards room.

Next morning’s sunrise was a rainbow streak beneath the crowds and beautiful in its own way.

When I looked closely at my own picture, I realized that I could see the other side of the lake! Where we are at Lester Beach, is almost directly across from Gimli. Since Ponemah is south of Gimli, I expect that one of the little shorelines south of Grand Beach is directly across. Perhaps Beaconia?

I was on first course duty again so I prepared yogurt, granola, pineapple and kiwi. It was delicious- if I do say so myself.

D, a trained cook was on omelets that morning. Here is his mise en place.

D is well equipped to cook eggs for breakfast. When he was a teenage cook on the train from Winnipeg to Vancouver, he was harnessed to the stove, so that he would have both hands to flip the eggs.

Every omelet is a unique creation, D’s contained crispy bacon bits that the guests appreciated.

After breakfast clean up and guest check outs, we had the afternoon to ourselves which was welcome. We couldn’t do our regular work, chores around the yard, house or lakehouse, so we had enforced leisure. Ahh. A lovely way to celebrate our first solo weekend!

Kath’s quotes: Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.” -Author unknown

Love never fails.

NYC Trip Report-Day 2, Becco


With this trip being our first time staying in Brooklyn (our previous locales were Gramercy Park, The Piers, Central Park, Garment District, Madison Square Gardens, Jersey City and Queens), we set out to explore DUMBO (aka Down Under the Metropolitan Bridge Overpass).

I imagine that travelers ordinally gravitated to the area to see the Manhattan skyline, but as you can see the fog had rolled in with the persistent rain.

Many people chose this street to get their selfies in front of the bridge (us included-please ignore my rained on hair). We did some browsing at the weekend flea market but were soon looking for sustenance. It turned out that resulting lunch, was my favourite meal of the entire trip!

D had discovered it just around the corner from the flea market. It was an inauspicious little place but as soon as the aroma wafted from the open door, we knew that we were in for a treat.

This magazine feature taped to the wall by our stools indicated the success that was had when Jeremy Dean flipped his vegan bodega into a noodle house!

This decadent starter was assembled from mixed mushrooms, black garlic and yu choy dumplings. Absolutely stellar!

This noodle dish was named after the restaurant and were the silkiest, I have ever eaten.

We also tucked into a fried rice dish in a cardboard take out container, just because we wanted to eat with chopsticks right out of the carton like everyone does in shows and movies about NYC!

We had a lengthy subway ride back to the Theatre District for a matinee that we had gotten tix for in the Broadway lottery, but we were too early for curtain. So we spent some time in our favourite Bryant Park, our destination with every trip to the Big Apple.

Here is a reflection of the Empire State Building. One of many lovely aspects of this trip was because we had already done all the touirsty things on previous trips, so we could relax and return to our favourite spots.

There is always a point when I have been in New York, that I crave home-not my city house so much as our lake house. This is why.

The best thing about the Broadway play that we saw, were our great seats. Otherwise, I won’t even mention it.

We had dinner reservations at a place called Becco on Restaurant Row which was close to the Theatre District, so we first enjoyed a tea and pastry in the hood and then happy hour beverages, when we were still too early. D would say that Becco was well worth the trouble.

Lidia Bastianich and her son Joe, both of Food Network fame, are collaborators of the restaurant, so my sights were pretty high. D said that his choice of Cesar salad was the best he had ever tasted.

I very much enjoyed the anti-pasto, sharing the nibbles with D. My favourite taste prior to dinner was skinny little breadsticks rolled in course salt.

I am guessing that the proximity to the theatre district must have created their pasta tasting menu. Piping hot selections were served from skillet pans delivered by wandering chefs/servers. One was of el dente broccoli in a light sauce and the above was torn sheets of pasta in a seafood sauce with little morsels of more seafood peppering the dish. D loved both and had to decide which dish to have seconds of because the pasta came around and around until you yelled “Uncle!”

I loved the mushroom stuffed ravioli in an equally decadent mushroom cream sauce. We passed on desert and decided that a stroll through Times Square would be a great idea. D was doing some souvenir shopping for the kids and grandkids at home. He didn’t have the correct change for a t-shirt vendor, so the kind gentlemen said “Take the shirt and come back and pay me after you find an ATM”! We were so touched by his kindness.

Kath’s quote: “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it in five minutes as equally as five years.“-Tom Wolfe

Love never fails.

Mom’s Pantry-by Sister #3


When my mom moved into a personal  care home, we went to work cleaning out her house and doing some renovations in preparation for sale. It was challenging because it was pretty full of stuff, and for me and some of my siblings it was the only home we had ever lived in as a family. There were so many memories created in that place and it was full of items that reminded us of those sweet times. I was very happy with how hard everyone worked and how smoothly the division of moms things went. Everyone was able to find items that were sentimental to them and there were no items that anyone bickered over. I had asked all my siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews if there was anything in particular they would like. Only one item was requested by two people, mom’s white chenille bedspread. But while sorting through the linen closet I discovered that she actually owned two of them. Problem solved!  

Mom wasn’t a hoarder or anything but having grown up during the depression she sometimes had a hard time parting with things she felt were of value. Also a product of growing up in poverty, she had a tendency to stock up on food items on sale and prepare lots of things for the freezer and pantry. Her deep freeze was full of meat and her homemade perogies, bread and cinnamon buns.

Her pantry was well stocked with dry goods, flour, cans of soup, tinned fruit and vegetables, and her homemade preserves. I have wonderful memories of making all kinds of jams and pickles with my mom but I have to confess that I have not since done any “canning” as mom would call it. Part of the reason is a dear friend of mine makes all kinds of things In jars and gifts me with her salsa, jalapeño jelly, cranberry jelly, and turmeric pickles every Christmas. 

The closest thing I do to preserves these days is escabeche, a delicious quick pickle of vegetables I first tasted in Mexico. Here’s my recipe for these super easy veggies.

3 x 16 ounce Mason jars (or any sealable glass jar)

1 cup carrots, sliced

2½ cups cauliflower florets

1 bunch radishes, sliced

2 jalapenos, sliced & seeds removed

6 garlic cloves

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon sugar

1¼ teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1 cup white vinegar

2 cups water

Divide peppercorns and bay leaves between the three Mason jars. Peel garlic cloves but leave whole and divide between jars.* Layer carrots, cauliflower, radishes, and jalapenos in jars.

In a pot, combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil on the stovetop then simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 30 seconds. Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables and allow to cool for one hour before sealing and refrigerating.

Escabeche is ready to eat as soon as it’s chilled but it’s best to allow the flavors to develop for a full day.

Escabeche will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

If you aren’t into spicy pickles, cut back or eliminate the jalapeños. Also know that the garlic can turn a funny blue colour, but it’s a completely normal reaction to the vinegar. 

Kath’s quote: “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar“. — Thomas Jefferson

Love never fails.

NYC Trip Report Day One-Sweeney Todd!


On our first full day in NYC, we woke up to grey skies but we were determined to make the most of the weather. D had scoped out the neighbourhood on foot by this time and recommended we venture out to find a favourite NYC treat-bagels!

Having never stayed in Brooklyn before and only knowing the term “Flatbush” from a brat pack movie, I was delighted to wander down Flatbush Ave. in search of authentic New York bagels.

Once we had chosen toasted everything bagels, we had the decision to make of what topping from all those displayed in this case. Lox and cream cheese was our choice.

The look and feel of the place was much like Essa Bagel that we discovered when we stayed in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan. I couldn’t imagine that any bagel could stack up to an Essa bagel but the Flatbush certainly did a gallant job.

We perched onto stools and lingered over our bagels. We got a kick of seeing various walks of life wander in for their daily fix.

I couldn’t finish mine and together with the extra ones we bought for our apartment, D got the task of walking through the rain the rest of the morning with a soggy brown paper bag.

Although the summer peak of blooms had passed at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, it was still a lovely place to pass a morning, even a wet one.

I saw many of my favourite plants there. The difference was that I grow them as house plants whereas the climate of the state of New York is much more moderate.

Since the rain didn’t let up, I was glad to spy this beautiful structure when I was about half through my walk.

Not only did I get a reprieve from the weather, I was delighted by their bonsai display.

Just outside the conservatory were these beautiful sculptures in the lily pad ponds.

I always gravitate to water and fountains. We even how a fountain and pond in our backyard!

We arrived home to get ready for our special evening out to see Josh Groban in Sweeney Todd. I had seen him four times in concert, but never on Broadway. His appearance was actually the impetus for the entire NYC trip. D worked very hard to secure just the right apartment and other logistics. When we got a break in the rain, we went up to the rooftop of our penthouse for a glass of wine and a selfie before we made our way to Times Square.

The rain prevented us for simply hanging out and we hadn’t eaten anything since our morning bagel, so we headed to an unexplored place where we had a ressie.

We decided to go to the bar before dinner. When we spotted that it was Happy Hour at the bar, we never made it to the dining room.

D and I love bar seats-you can watch the workings of the staff and it is a great place to meet other guests. My guess was that most everyone was a traveler like us.

Bar drinks were the special including Sangria! I became hooked on sangria from my visit to Spain last fall. We enjoyed a couple of appetizers too, but didn’t want to full up before sitting through a 3 hour play.

Our balcony seats were perfect and we were immediately enraptured by the story that we were only somewhat acquainted with.

The theatre was gorgeous, the singing exquisite, the set was full of surprises and the show was unbelievably funny, in spite of its dark story line. The evening was first class in every way and I was so grateful to D for his meticulous planning.

Kath’s quote: “And life is for the alive, my dear. So let’s keep living it.”-Steven Soundheim

Love never fails.

« Older Entries